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Phil's Rambling Rants

May 3rd, 2010

May 3rd, 2010
02:58 pm

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Other people's representatives
Listening to the radio this morning got me thinking about something about political systems that I've though about before, but never come up with any really solid ideas.  I am, however, curious if other people have thought about this too, so I'm going to mumble about my thoughts and see if anyone out there is inspired to mumble back.

Representative democracy exists to ensure that there is someone who can speak for local concerns before the larger body (whether it be the country, one state, or one city).  But even at its theoretical best, it seems to institutionalize selfishness when sometimes we need to work for the greater good.  I don't want to name specific examples because I don't want a partisan debate, but I'm sure anyone can come up with examples from both sides of the aisle who are very popular with their own electorate and reviled by voters everywhere else.

My question is, could there be a system that actually allowed voters some say about those elected in other jurisdictions?  I'm not talking about an equal say, electing all seats on an at large basis.  But I'm wondering if a system where people had a full vote for their own representatives and also a small partial vote in other elections could work.  Or perhaps a system where the whole body politic could force a recall of someone from one district.

My hope is that a mechanism like this would put a check on the representatives who become more equal than others, who have leadership positions that make their opinions more important than others and who use those positions to bring home the pork or to prevent projects that would benefit everyone from being developed in the big shot's back yard.  My fear is that it would become another tool by which established political parties and interests could quash dissent.

Has anyone heard of a system like this actually being used?  Has it been discussed before?

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